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Clear Sky and Epic Balloons in The Reno Tahoe Basin

Reno nevada Balloon race
Written by sierrarecmagazine

The Great Reno Balloon Race kicked off today in Reno and Sierra Rec was there to experience life in a balloon above Reno.

Reno NV, September 9, 2021 – Reno has some great events each year, but until today I never realized how special the Reno balloon race event was for drivers and spectators alike. The perfect sunrise broke over the mountain in the east and the fields at San Rafael Park in Reno were coming to life with the sounds of propane engines firing off and people buzzing with excitement as the drivers were released from their morning briefing.

We were instructed to head out to spot 65 Last name Dobb’s written on my square. I guess if I had been a Balloon historian I may have realized then that I was in for a treat. My driver for the day Wild Bill Dobb’s a three time winner at the Reno Balloon race and winner of over 50 races across the country. All I knew today is that I was about to check of a bucket list item of flying in a hot air balloon and that I would meet my driver and crew at spot 65.

What a first impression as Bill pulls up in his new Ford truck and is all business as he figures out the correct place to lay out the balloon around all the others that had already started in the field. We jumped to action and had the basket out of the truck and the balloon up wrapped before I knew it. A quick change of the sponsor banner to the pink T-Mobile banner and Bills instructions were clear. Hold the opening up so we could force the air into the balloon. I grabbed onto one side as the crew grabbed the other and the fans did the rest of the work. The T-mobile bullet balloon was on its way to being filled.

Minutes later the fire roars out of the double cannon rig and warms the air in the balloon and Bill starts giving instruction on how to enter the basket. Before i could think about it we were moving off the ground and looking for clearance from the grounds crew. There were already 20 plus balloons in the air and the sky was the streaked with sunlight from the slight clouds and remnant smoke from the fires.

Surprising how quickly you are 100, then 500 feet off the ground, it was so smooth. As the sky line, littered with balloons opens up in front of Reno, I am in awe at the whole thing. Taking pictures and video with every piece of equipment I own. We enjoyed a great float along McCarran Blvd then North of the Campus for a bit, Following the wind currents, it was crazy to watch bill feel the winds then adjust to t different height and change directions. Drivers compete by finding a spot on the landscape. Historically it is a big white x that they have to drop a bag on closest to the X wins, but Bill tells me they have go electronic now and you have to use your phone over a set of coordinates. That’s when he says, I have won my share, I just want to fly today. So we continue on up and down as needed to keep direction.

30 minutes in we start looking for a places to land and Bill targets a set of industrial buildings with big parking areas. We float over then down to street level to talk with our driver and then back up and over a building to land in their parking area. So funny as we have people coming out of their business to take pictures and ask questions. As we are floating over the building at times we would seem to get with in 20 feet of the top maybe a little less, but Bill would give it a little heat an about 40 seconds later we would rise up a little before drifting down again. You could tell Bill had done this some as we made a perfect landing, so smooth.

Bill and his crew were from Park City Utah where they run an outfit called Morning Star Balloon rides. They have three balloons in this years event and he would not miss it.

Reno is the best place to fly, says Bill Dobbs. Albuquerque is the party and super bowl for most, but for me Reno is always the best flights of the year.

With the National forest closed in California, I cant think of a better place to be than Reno this weekend at the Balloon festival.

— The Great Reno Balloon Race (GRBR) prepares to captivate its
many spectators during its 40th anniversary event this Sept. 10 through Sept. 12 at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park in Reno, Nev. This internationally recognized event and beloved local tradition remains the world’s largest free hot-air ballooning festival and provides free admission to the public from sponsorship support.
“There is something about waking up early, bundling up in blankets, and staring up at these magnificent and colorful balloons,” said Executive Director of GRBR Pete Copeland. “Every single year, much like the spectators, I am drawn in by the pure magic of the event. We are very grateful that we can celebrate our 40th anniversary with an event this year, and we can’t wait to welcome our pilots and fans back for this annual tradition.”
Before the sun peeks over the mountains, spectators will see the daily iconic Glow Show illuminating the park with a soft warm light — a signal that the event has begun. During the Show, the early morning sky will be decorated by the choreographed glow of up to 10 hot-air balloons. On Friday, Sept. 10, we will have a special Super Glow Show where upwards of 40 balloons will take over the performance.
It’s not until dawn that eight hot-air balloons lift off the ground to perform Dawn Patrol. Only a few pilots in the world can perform this skilled show, and it is a must-see for all attendees. This year, Dawn Patrol will be held all three days of the event. During the daily Mass Ascension, the remaining balloons will rise and fill the park with an array of colors and shapes while the sun rises.
New this year, Sands Regency and The Great Reno Balloon Race is hosting a special experience each day of the event for first responders. This includes a VIP Tent with ample viewing and a complimentary meal. First responders just need to show ID for entry.
On Saturday, Sept. 11, the event will hold a remembrance ceremony in honor of 9/11, also that day attendees should wear their best pink for breast cancer awareness to “Paint the Park Pink.”
Then, on Sunday, Sept. 12, attendees are encouraged to wear blue in honor of Donor Awareness Day.
Spectators will see a variety of special-shaped balloons, including new-to-the-event special shapes: Allycorn, a pink unicorn; Kermie, a frog; Humpty Dumpty; Rocket Raccoon; Keystone

Willy, a cop; and Con-Air, a robber. Returning special shapes include: Billy the Kid, a cowboy;
Smokey Bear. Click here to download photos of these special shapes.
As the balloons dazzle and spectators capture photos, they can share their best photos through
a photo contest in partnership with Reno Tahoe. Attendees can tag #RenoBalloon21 on
Instagram for a chance to win prizes.


About The Great Reno Balloon Race:
The Great Reno Balloon Race (GRBR) is the world’s largest free hot-air ballooning event. The
event has floated into the hearts and minds of Reno’s visitors and locals alike for the past 39
years. With upwards of 100 balloons and 120,000+ in attendance each year, the event is a
permanent fixture in Reno’s September skyline. GRBR is a nonprofit organization offering free
admission because of its sponsorship support. For more information, visit, or
find them at or Twitter @RenoBalloon.

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